Face of Defense: Reserve Soldier Returns to Help Hometown Recruiters

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Stepan, a recruiter with the El Paso Recruiting Company, assists U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Alexis Chacon, a human resources specialist with the 77th Quartermaster Group, as she works as a hometown recruiter at the Zaragoza Recruiting Station, in El Paso, TX, June 11, 2018. (Maj. Brandon R. Mace/U.S. Army Reserve)

One of the unique ways an Army Reservist can make a difference after returning from their initial entry training is to serve as a hometown recruiter.

Army Spc. Alexis Chacon, a human resources specialist with the 77th Quartermaster Group here, was excited to help the recruiters in her home town.

“I just wanted the experience,” Chacon said. “I wanted to build my communication skills. I wanted to learn how to put myself out there and be able to explain the Army Reserve to someone.”

The Hometown Recruiter Assistance Program allows enlisted soldiers who have recently completed initial entry training to return to their home towns to assist recruiters by sharing their Army training experiences with family, friends, high school classmates, future soldiers, veterans and community leaders.

Reaching Students

This is the second time Chacon has participated. A few weeks ago she returned to her alma mater, Bel Air High School, to talk with students and teachers about her experiences.

“We went to Bel Air and did presentations for all of the seniors that were graduating,” Chacon said. “We went out and talked about all the benefits, things like education benefits.”

Like most high school seniors, Chacon had fears and concerns before she reported to her initial entry training in 2016 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. She said that it was interesting to hear some of the students share the same kinds of fears she had when she was joining.

“One guy said he was afraid of leaving his family behind,” shared Chacon. “When I started my mom didn’t want me to leave, and I knew I’d miss her, but everyone is going through the same thing. It’s teamwork to get through it together.”

Firsthand Knowledge

Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Stepan, a recruiter with the El Paso Recruiting Company, said the full-time recruiters love when soldiers return to be hometown recruiters.

“We offer it every time we have an enlistment,” he said. “We ask them to come back because they have the knowledge and know firsthand what the Army is doing at their level.”

Stepan said that hometown recruiters can really relate with high school students and address their questions and concerns in a unique way. He added that he was glad Chacon could help talk directly with the students they met with.

“She went through boot camp and AIT, and she has a fresh knowledge about how it is right now,” he said. “She knows how things affect [high school] seniors, from education to finances, not only in the military but as a civilian as well, because she is in the Army Reserve, and she loves it!”

In addition to serving in an Army Reserve unit here, Chacon is hoping to do even more to help her community. She has already applied and tested to join the El Paso Police Department.

“One thing I like about El Paso is the people,” she said. “Everyone knows each other. The community is really close, so if I can be out there protecting them on the police force and I can be serving here in the Reserve, it is something I want to do. I want to maintain our community the way it is.”